Steeler Nation, its been a pretty busy off-season so far for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many players have come and gone since the 2014 free agency period kicked off March 11.
We thought now might be a good time for a Steelers’ free agency recap of the comings and goings thus far. Lets start with players who have left .
Gone to Free Agency…
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders signed with the Denver Broncos : This may have been the Steelers biggest free agent loss but was definitely not unexpected. Sanders was the Steelers’ number two receiver in 2013 with 67 catches for 740 yards and 6 touchdowns. Sanders signed a 3 year deal for 15 million dollars , a price the Steelers couldn’t and wouldn’t pay. The Steelers are banking on second year wide receiver Markus Wheaton to step up into the number two receiver role in 2014.
Safety Ryan Clark signed with Washington : Ryan Clark had his ups and downs in 2013, unfortunately, the downs outweighed the ups and the time had come for the Steelers and Clark to part ways.
Defensive end Ziggy Hood signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars : Hood was a 2009 1st round pick and never lived up to those first round expectations with the Steelers. The Jaguars signed Hood to a 4 year deal for 16 million dollars.
Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery signed with the Carolina Panthers : Cotchery had a good 2013 season for the Steelers as one of quarterback Ben Roethlisbergers‘ main targets in the red zone with 10 touchdown catches. The Steelers would of loved to have Cotchery back, but the Panthers made him a deal he could not refuse signing him to a 5 year deal for $8 million that included a 2.25 million dollar signing bonus.
Running back Jonathan Dwyer signed with the Arizona Cardinals : Jonathan Dwyer spent much of his time as a Steeler in the coaches dog house over conditioning and work ethic. He was cut at the beginning of 2013 but brought back due to an injury plagued backfield and showed flashes of a potential back up. Dwyer will now reunite with former Steeler offensive coordinator Bruce Arians who is now the Head coach for the Cardinals.
Defensive end Al Woods signed with the Tennessee Titans : The Steelers would of liked to resign Woods but the Titans signed him under the radar. Woods was a Steeler project the last couple season and showed some good potential.
Tight end David Johnson signed with the San Diego Chargers : Johnson was mostly a blocker for the Steelers but had been plagued by season ending injuries the past couple years.
The Steelers also had to make some cuts this off season allowing them more room under the salary cap. Here they are.
Cut from the team…
Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley : Woodley will be 30 next season and has been prone to injuries the past three seasons.His salary cap hit for 2014 was set to be $13.59 million .The Steelers signing of Jason Worilds to the transition tag sealed Woodleys’ fate. Now with the release the hit is reduced to $5.6 million and $8.5 million against the 2015 cap. The Steelers designated Woodley a June 2 release so his cap savings wont kick in till that date. LaMarr Woodley did not take long to find a new team he is now a defensive end for the Oakland Raiders.
Inside Linebacker Larry Foote : Foote was injured (torn bicep) in the season opener of 2013 and placed on IR. The Steelers had to move on and probably believe that Foote has little left in the tank as for 2014 and beyond.
Cornerback Curtis Brown : Brown was drafted out of Texas by the Steelers in the third round (95th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft. Brown played three seasons in all but was injury plagued and mostly inconsistent during his time with the Steelers.
Offensive tackle Levi Brown : Brown came to the Steelers via trade with the Arizona Cardinals in October of 2013 but was injured during pregame on October 13, 2013, and was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the 2013 season. The Steelers had no intentions on paying the rest of his hefty salary.
The Steelers were active in free agency in 2014 and started off signing a few of their own players.
Players resigned …
Outside linebacker Jason Worilds : the Steelers signed Worilds to the transition tag and are hoping to sign him to a long term deal. Worilds had his best season as a Pro in 2013 registering 54 tackles, 8 sacks and 2 forced fumbles .
Safety Will Allen : Allen was resigned as a quality back up, adding depth to a position that needs it. He knows the Steelers defensive system and can start if need be. Allen signed a one year deal.
Long snapper Greg Warren : Warren signed a one year deal and is now one of the longest tenured Steelers on the team. Warren joined the Steelers in 2005 as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina and has appeared in 133 regular-season and nine playoff games.
Guard / Center Cody Wallace : Wallace signed a new three year deal and adds some much needed depth to the Steelers offensive line. Wallace is both center and guard capable, coming to the Steelers at the beginning of the 2013 season. Wallace appeared in nine games for the Steelers in 2013 and started the final four at center following a season ending injury of center Fernando Velasco.
Guard/Tackle Guy Whimper : Whimper was signed to add depth to the offensive line. He joined the Steelers at the beginning of 2013 and played in 11 games last season, making two starts, one at left guard and right guard. He saw playing time at all offensive line positions but center. Whimper signed a one year deal.
Tight end Michael Palmer : Palmer adds depth to the tight end position .He played in all 16 games for the Steelers during the 2013 season and was used mostly as a blocker. Palmer did have one catch for eight yards.
The Steelers were unusually active in free agency, signing more than a few players from other teams. Here is a recap of those players signed so far.
New players signed through free agency…
Safety Mike Mitchell : Former Carolina Panther free safety Mike Mitchell is known as a physical hard-hitting safety collecting 4 interceptions, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 8 pass defenses and 66 tackles in 2013 for the Panthers. Mitchell is considered an upgrade to the Steelers secondary and is expected to start in Ryan Clark’s old spot, adding some experienced youth to the mix. Mitchell is plenty fast having ran a reported 4.39 40 at his pro day in 2009.The Steelers signed Mitchell to a five year deal worth $25 million.
Running Back LeGarrette Blount : Blount 27, 6-0 250 entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon with the Tennessee Titans but was waived during training camp and picked up by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His best season came in 2010 when he ran for 1007 yards with a 5 yard average and 6 touchdowns. In 2013 he played for the New England Patriots running for 772 yards for a 5 yard average and 7 touchdowns. Blount provides the Steelers with depth and is a starter capable veteran. He will be used to complement feature runner Le’Veon Bell. Blount signed a two year deal with the Steelers.
Wide receiver Lance Moore : Former New Orleans Saint wide receiver Lance Moore 5-9 190 spent 9 seasons with the Saints having his best season in 2012 collecting 65 catches for 1041 yards, a 16 yards per catch average and 6 touchdowns.In 2013 Lance Moore was hampered by injuries while collecting 37 catches, 457 yards , 12.4 yard average and 2 touchdowns. He became a cap casualty when he was released March 7 2014. Moore may help relieve the void left from the departure of Jerricho Cotchery .The Steelers signed Moore to a two year deal.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey : Heyward-Bey 27, 6-2, 219 was selected by the Oakland Raiders as the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft out of Maryland. He spent four seasons with the Raiders totaling 140 receptions , 2071 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns in that time.He signed with the Indianapolis Colts on April 1, 2013 Darrius Heyward-Bey had 29 receptions for 309 yards and a touchdown in 2013 for the Colts. He has a career total of 64 starts,169 receptions for 2380 yards 12 touchdown receptions and a 14.1 yard average per catch. His best season was in 2011 for the Raiders recording 64 receptions for 975 yards, an average of 15.2 yard average per catch and 4 touchdown receptions. Heyward Bey is known as a fast receiver with questionable hands. DHB was add for depth and signed a one year deal at the veteran minimum .
Outside/ inside linebacker Arthur Moats : Former Buffalo Bills Linebacker Arthur Moats 26, 6-2, 250 was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in round 6 of the 2010 NFL draft out of James Madison. He is capable of playing both the inside linebacker and outside linebacker positions in the Steelers 3-4 defensive scheme. Moats started 12 games for the Bills in 2013 and registered 54 tackles.Moats had a total of 141 tackles , 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in his four seasons with the Bills. He also plays special teams. The Steelers signed Moats to a one year deal.
Nose tackle Cam Thomas : Former San Diego Charger nose tackle Cam Thomas 27, 6-4 330 was a 5th round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers out of North Carolina in 2010 .Thomas is not known as a game changer and his best skills are against the run . He started 10 games last season but was benched in December of 2013. He totaled 23 tackles ,2 pass defenses and one interception last season. The Steelers are interested in trying him at defensive end. Thomas should be considered a depth move till proven else wise.He signed a two year deal.
Cornerback Brice McCain : McCain 27, (5-9, 187) was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 6th round (188th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Utah .He spent five seasons with the Texans before being released on March 11, 2014. He played in 72 career regular season games and made 10 career starts with the Texans. Brice McCain has 111 tackles (94 solo), five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 32 passes defensed during his five year NFL career. He also has registered 15 special team,tackles. This signing should help bring some much needed depth to the Steelers’ secondary and special teams.Brice McCain signed a one year deal.
OK Steeler Nation, there you have it your Steelers free agency recap as of April 2014.